While taking steps to maintain the value of its existing 10 teams through its new “franchise” style model, Formula 1 is also hinting that it could open its doors to an 11th team.
But The Race understands that F1 has strong opinions about what kind of new team it would accept on the grid, and that the cold reception American giant Andretti is receiving so far has to do with that and the preference of the championship for a new manufacturer team instead.
what kind of team should F1 wants to expand its grid? Or should he focus entirely on maintaining the 10 teams he has?
Here’s what our editors have to say:
What did Andretti do to trigger this reaction from F1?
Livery by TommyWTF1 3D Model by Chris Paul Design/Unkredible Studios
F1’s apparent skepticism of Andretti is puzzling. Certainly, the potential to host one of IndyCar’s most established and successful teams in the 21st century is a fantastic opportunity. It’s a great story for F1 to tell, especially given its aim to make waves in America.
It makes you wonder what it is about Andretti’s proposed entry that F1 is unconvinced of. Is there something fundamentally missing from the business plan? Perhaps the willingness of the Andretti camp to try to play this process in public has rubbed F1 the wrong way.
But if F1 really wants to develop and maintain a strong presence in the United States, then it will have to be a bit more open to some occasional impetuosity. American sports have always understood the need to be more open in public than other more reserved sports based mainly in other parts of the world – and that certainly includes F1, even since its new owners have loosened the grips a bit. chains in recent years.
If F1 is holding out for a manufacturer team to take 11th place on the grid, then I fully agree with Mark Hughes’ excellent summary of this argument which you can read elsewhere on this website. And if another constructor wants to join in the future, let’s do a 12th team.
The question of where the money comes from to distribute the annual payments to new entrants is a valid one. For once I’m on the side of the interested teams: I agree that if F1 decides they want to widen the grid, it should be F1’s slice of the pie that is reduced slightly to facilitate that, not the teams that are already here and doing a good job. Adding top teams to the grid would surely pay off F1 in the long run.
Maybe the way to sell Andretti to F1 is this: get Michael Andretti to come to another race and spend the weekend networking and harassing people to re-sign bits of paper, as he did in Miami. But this time, have the Drive to Survive team follow him all the time. Netflix would love that.
If Liberty makes F1 grow, it should open its doors
Protecting the 10 existing teams is a fine principle, especially since the business model has now changed. The “franchise value” is the key. It doesn’t matter if the team is owned by a billionaire, a car manufacturer, or an energy company – the team itself wouldn’t depend on that ownership after a while anyway.
In this ideal scenario, you could argue that the fragility of some manufacturer inputs is protected against. So if constructor X came along, got bored after a few years and changed its mind, F1 wouldn’t necessarily be compromised.
The ownership and name of the team might change, but the team itself would continue as this is a protected entry that someone else would be keen to take over if maker X walks away .
This is, I guess, the argument behind prioritizing a manufacturer entry over something like Andretti. But I would say F1 is strong enough not to have to choose…
If F1 is confident it can continue to grow, Liberty could easily cover the impact of the prize money for one or two upcoming teams.
If someone has the money for a proper infrastructure and operating budget, why not let it in? These means would probably be the bones of a competitive entry, which would boost F1 as a whole. And as F1 is supposed to be autonomous now, once the new teams are in place they shouldn’t be a leak risk.
Theoretically, you could have a few fairly simple criteria. Does the potential entry have the funding to start from scratch? Could they be around for at least five years without any prize money? Are they an entity that would be compatible with F1 (essentially not someone or something that discredits it for any reason)?
The best argument against all of this is that the new F1 ecosystem couldn’t support more than 10 teams. If there is strong evidence for this, it would be helpful to see it.
Any credible potential team deserves a chance
Formula 1 should welcome any new team with the financial muscle, the credibility, a proposition that will help develop Grand Prix racing, a compelling plan and the means to execute it. This hardly opens the floodgates, as it is a difficult set of boxes that few people tick all of them.
Anyone who listens to our Bring Back V10s podcast, which tells classic F1 stories mostly from 1989 to 2005, will have heard of the many lucky ones who showed up.
Some were simply looking for a slice of the growing financial pie, others were out of depth and very few made it work. While these stories were fun, they weren’t good for the stability of F1.
For F1 teams to be in their current sustainable shape with valuations over $1 billion, several things are needed – a fair share of revenue, cost cap and reasonable regulations. As part of this, F1 teams are automatically guaranteed a very large income simply by participating. It is right that it be protected.
But this fine balance will be threatened if a former team is allowed in F1. The FIA is right, there should be strong controls and the $200 million anti-dilution fee (which can be waived) is reasonable given that just spinning will entitle you to great wealth. We can’t go back to the days when the 11th or 12th team could be ruined financially because of a few bad seasons and that situation is being avoided thanks to a Concorde deal which distributes the money more evenly.
Similarly, any manufacturer team should be welcome – but only if they can provide, in advance, full and solid guarantees of continuity should the vagaries of the automotive world lead them to withdraw. This could be created with draconian financial penalties to deter wayward organizations.
The barrier to entry must be high, but it must be able to be overcome. This will allow credible, extremely rare operations to have a chance, while weeding out the lucky and optimistic.
Teams at the bottom of the ladder deserve the chance to aspire
There isn’t really a great history of teams moving up the junior ranks, graduating from F1 and doing a respectable job of it. In modern history, this list probably begins and ends with Jordan.
The list of teams that did a great job at F3 or F3000 level but were then humiliated and destroyed in F1 is much longer. Much like the list of teams that rose to the top of F1, became giants on the single-seater ladder, but wisely looked at F1 and thought ‘no, it won’t work for us’.
I’ve always been a little sad about the technical and financial chasm that means the best teams outside of F1 can pitch drivers and staff to the top level but can’t make the leap on their own. In idle moments I have even speculated on the circumstances in which F1 might have its own form of drama that team promotion/relegation creates in football (and concluded that these circumstances are technically impossible without completely reinventing single-seater motorsport).
A qualified F2 team would certainly not bring the profile of an Audi F1 team (or an Andretti F1 team…). But what you might call competitive social mobility is a key tenet of 2020s F1 – framing the rules so teams at the bottom of the pack can really get ahead. Adapting this so that those watching from the outside can also have aspirations would be welcome.
Prioritizing manufacturers will only hurt F1
If Formula 1 really holds the door open for an undecided car marque while simultaneously having a bouncer blocking the way for Michael Andretti’s independent team, it stinks.
Forget for a moment the championship benefits of a fully-fledged American team, run by a family from the racing dynasty, leading local driver talent.
Forget the racing pedigree of the team itself and what an attractive business proposition it would be and how it could attract F1’s top talent to become a serious contender.
Think instead of the folly of predicting the future of the championship too heavily on automakers.
They don’t exist to race. The race is never more than a practical marketing supplement.
Nothing wrong with that, and a perfectly logical position for them. F1 is right to welcome such a presence. But not at the expense of an independent core.
This is an excerpt from Mark Hughes’ comprehensive column on lessons from motorsport’s past that show the dangers of reliance on manufacturers – click here for more